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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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ALUMINUM KNOT EYE:
Trunk Lurker: LP
What can make supreme weirdness so catchy? The process of discovery and invention is so vague and convoluted, but when you hear something from left field, it’s either like being whacked by Thomas Edison’s wet brain and a huge light goes on over your head or it’s easy to dismiss it as broken ear junk (or just plain shit). For as cacophonic, scree-laced, and scraped-into-a-mound-then-blasted-apart as AKE are, there’s a soft bubblegum-ness that keeps it all sticking together. Somehow. The beauty of it, what I hear may be completely different for the next listener. Christ, they’ve got stuff reminiscent of the Cramps to Roky Erickson to the Lost Sounds to The Pagans to The Clone Defects to The Scientists to Hasil Adkins to Masters of the Obvious to spaghetti western soundtracks to good, old fashioned gas huffing. Mix ‘em up in a big, jagged ball and imagine an accident with them getting splattered on a windshield and the little bits of glass flying everywhere. Definitely something challenging yet instantly listenable. Here’s to rural Wisconsin and its frozen tundras of inspiration. –todd (Deadbeat)


ALL SYSTEMS FAIL:
Self-titled: 7"
Crusty hardcore from SLC, with big, crunchy guitars, dual vocals and one song sung in Spanish. Not too shabby. –jimmy (Loderbrock)


ALL PARALLELS:
Formulate a Tragedy: CD
You can smell it a mile away when a band has their hearts in the wrong place. This CD reeks of I want to make it! This band sounds like many other rock bands that you would catch on MTV or Fuse (MuchMusic for you Canadians). When this band is in pop mode, they sound way too much like Weezer. Like we need another Weezer clone band. The rock stuff is like Nickelback or Puddle of Mudd or any one of those boring rock bands. Generic. And they have that Oh god, not another band that sounds like (enter band name here). More power to these guys. I will make this go away and not have to listen to this again. In the trash you go. –don (On the Rise)


ALL PARALLELS:
Formulate a Tragedy: CD
Sweet fucking Christ. I may have finally found something as horrifically bad as Into Another. There’s a hint of bad funk, a slew of boring rock riffs (throw the horns, motherfuckers!), and lyrics about working to make girls theirs, along with vaguely sexist songs about how to get money, girls, and drinking, and one track about homelessness which is so heavy-handed that the band should really consider giving up music and going into boxing, sooner rather than later. –scott (On the Rise)


ALL OR NOTHING H.C.:
What Doesn’t Kill You…: CD
Just in case you didn’t pick up what “h.c.” stood for at the end of this band name—this is a hardcore band. Fronted by lead singer Renae Byrant, this band makes Tsunami Bomb look like a bunch of pansies. Some of the feel-good topics brought up here include: dysfunctional families, oppression, fear, and violence. Not something to play at your next office party, but the band is competent and seems to be schooled in the classics. I can hear some Verbal Assault, some Gorilla Biscuits, even some Suicidal Tendencies (first album only, please). If you’re mad at the world and think the man is bringing you down, this may be the record for you. –koepenick (On The Rag/Rodent Popsicle)


ALL AMERICAN WEREWOLVES:
Hate Rock USA: CD
In keeping the monster theme so prevalent here, I’d say if this were a B monster movie it would be billed as “The Ramones Meet Chuck Berry.” And I’m talking here about Chuck Berry the musician and not Chuck Berry the toilet bowl cinematographer, though the latter might make for a more interesting monster movie. Anyways, this is bouncy, good-time stuff, roughly similar to a band like the Groovie Ghoulies. And though it might pretend that it’s “hate rock,” it’s so damn affable it’s hard not to like it at least a little bit. –aphid (Eugene)


AIR CONDITIONING:
Weakness: CD
Three guys raise one seriously cronked racket, one barely classifiable as music. Three tracks run forty minutes and coat a thin skeleton of rhythm with gallons and gallons of guitar noise, bass noise and a few crunchy samples. Maybe some vocals, but you’re not gonna get the words; you’re just gonna get the earborne sickness which is its own cure. –Cuss Baxter (Level Plane)


AIR CONDITIONING:
Weakness: CD
Three audio tracks with a total time of 40:12. I call them audio tracks because these forty minutes and twelve seconds largely consist of noise—screaming, blistering, howling, raw noise, punctuated by periodic vocalizations which are largely unintelligible. We are not, for example, talking about noise as Lou Reed constructed it on Metal Machine Music—we’re talking about chaotic shit that is as likely to make your ears bleed as it is to sound like something resembling a song –scott (Level Plane)


AFI:
Self-titled: CD
Believe me, I am still a fan of this band. I have enjoyed their music for years and I like the current major label release. So I find it weird that this release is even in my hands. This is supposed to be a retrospective of the band while on the Nitro label. I know the label invested a lot of money trying to promote the band before they departed. But to release songs that are still in print and readily available? Most of the tracks that are termed rare are not even that rare. Yeah, they are B-sides and bonus tracks. Woopie. Those releases were pressed in the thousands. Rare is what people pay for: the Dork 7” or the other three 7”’s and splits that were released before the Nitro era. In my mind, I believe they are trying to take advantage of the band’s new release and to recoup money by bringing on more interest on their available back catalog. A special note from the bands website: To any of our fans who may have bought Nitro Records’ AFI anthology, we would like you to know that the decision to create this compilation was made solely by Nitro Records. While we are extremely proud of our body of work over the years, we would like you to know it was not the band’s decision to compile, create or promote a “retrospective” at this point in our career. If you should enjoy it or hear something you’ve been unable to find elsewhere then great, but please understand it was conceived and sold without our input. We are much more focused on creating our new record for our fans and seeing you all on tour next year. If you are a fan of this band, you will already have these songs. If you are now just discovering them, go buy the actual records. This is a waste of money. –don (Nitro)


ACTION SWINGERS:
Enough Already!: CD
Unless i miss my guess, the Action Swingers’ Decimation Blvd. album was kind of the Land Speed Record of the AmRep set—wait, no, that’s not right, Land Speed Record was the Land Speed Record of the AmRep set—well, okay, maybe it was the Blood, Guts & Pussy or the Get Action of the AmRep set. Wait, no, that can’t be right, either. It must’ve been the Blood Guts & Pussy of the AmRep set but the Land Speed Record of the Sub Pop set, because Blood Guts & Pussy was ON Sub Pop, so Blood Guts & Pussy has to be its own Blood Guts & Pussy for its own label, i mean, sheesh, a = a, how hard is that? But anyway, yeah, Decimation Blvd. was the Blood Guts & Pussy of the AmRep set, and the Land Speed Record of the Sub Pop set, unless, as i said, i miss my guess (and why wouldn’t i? What do i know from AmRep and Sub Pop and Sub Rep and AmPop and all like that?), but it also had significant currency in the Real World, because, after all, didn’t the Loudmouths cover “You’d Better Keep Your Big Mouth Shut?” Well, yes, i believe they did, so HA! That proves my original point! Actually, wait... no... no it doesn’t. Well, be that as it may, the Action Swingers sounded like they were made up of chewed up parts of Zeke, Dick Army (the fact that the Action Swingers were around long before Dick Army [likely before Zeke too] surely compounds the ongoing inanity of my analysis), the Ramones and Black Flag, all held together by black licorice moistened with that new, particularly evil looking strain of Mountain Dew™. Recorded at their final show in 1998, this artifact communicates the last dozen violent spurts of their existence so effectively that, when the band finally blows the final wad of the black cum of their tortured existence listenerward, i feel as though i am one of those begooped villagers from Bartholomew and the Oobleck, save that my engoopment is black, not green, in color. Ned Hayden strikes me as the kind of guy whom, had he a say in his means of execution, would choose “having a telephone receiver jammed down my throat with a broomstick” just so he could get on Faces of Death. ‘90s Nostalgia Nights are actually starting to sound like a good time to me. I’m Sick! BEST SONG: “You’d Better Keep Your Big Mouth Shut,” but it’s not on here, so i’ll say “Waiting For My Chance.” BEST SONG TITLE: “How Do You Work This Thing” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: I talked to Ned Hayden on the phone once, at my friend’s record store. –norb (Reptilian)


A FRAMES:
Complication b/w Frankenstein: 7"
People tend to throw around Gang of Four comparisons when talking about this band, but this record is too immediately satisfying to be lumped in with any icy, quasi-disco British post-punk. Call me crazy, but it reminds me a lot of the Mummies, albeit with really skewed guitar lines. I mean, if you played this at a party, it would never be confused with the kings of Budget Rock, but the approach is similar in the way they pound the crap out of their instruments and the way they, you know, rock. It’s addictive stuff; I usually let each song play two or three times before I flip the record over. And I heard that these guys have now signed to Sub Pop, which hopefully means that their upcoming records will be easier to find than their previous ones. –Josh (S-S)


7 SECONDS:
Take It Back, Take It On, Take It Over!: CD
If you were privy to my record collection, you would notice a rather large gap in the 7 Seconds section, which starts with Skins, Brains, & Guts, moves through Walk Together and then wholly bypasses their late ‘80s and ‘90s output until their triumphant return to form on Good to Go. Simple reason: their output during that void set a staggeringly wretched standard for faux-U2 suckdom that is matched only by Bad Religion’s mid-‘80s dreams of achieving ELP/prog rock demi-god status and TSOL’s drug-addled attempts at being glam rock heroes. So traumatized was I by that period in 7 Seconds’ lifespan that I remember physically wincing when I pressed play the first time I put Good to Go on the player, but my fears were quickly allayed when the first track came blasting forth and I realized that they had returned to form. This doesn’t mean that I’m not open to experimentation or “growth,” but if you’re gonna push the parameters a bit, just make sure it’s still got some bite to it, y’know? Anyway, I digress. This, their latest, is a continuation of their last, in that the songs remain as lightning quick as in the days of yore and tempered with just the right amount of pop. Given the current political state in this country, surprisingly few songs here address national/world issues, but they do shine a much-needed light on “scene” politics, both praising and encouraging the younger crop of kids and offering a justifiably harsh criticism of the Hot Topic crowd, which makes me wonder, though, if this means we won’t be seeing 7 Seconds shirts on sale there at thirty bucks a pop. I’m all for retrenching the scene in the underground and recapturing that sense of mystery and “danger” it needs so desperately to survive, but if you’re gonna do that, then ALL ties with the corporate punk overground need to be severed, meaning no more Hot Topic, no more records distributed by Columbia, no more Sideonedummy, no more Warped Tour, no more summer festivals sponsored by Vans and the like whatsoever. Take it on, take it back, take it over—I’m right there with you, Kev, if you and the remainder of our contemporaries that are still out there slugging it out in the punk rock world truly are sincere about excising punk/hardcore from the corporate teat it has latched itself onto. I gotta say, I’ve heard grumblings from more than one source that the last two 7 Seconds albums were nothing but lip service intended to retain their punk cred and return to the safety of former glory when that big stab at rockstardom didn’t pan out like it should’ve, but after years of watching people move on to “the real world,” I’m still strangely optimistic enough to give you the benefit of the doubt and believe that the sincerity you once wore on your sleeve is still there, bro. But again, I digress. Even if the songs sound a little formulaic at times, it’s still next to impossible to keep one’s fist from shooting straight into the air and letting fly the requisite “whoahs” during damn near every chorus. In short, I remain a fan. –jimmy (Sideonedummy)


7 SECONDS:
Take It Back, Take It On, Take It Over!:: CD
Man! When I was in high school, I could not get away from this band. Everybody that I hung out with played The Crew and Walk Together, Rock Together. It was annoying in the way the stoners played Van Halen and Led Zeppelin all the time. The first time I saw this Reno band was when they played their first LA gig. I remember it being at some shitty old theater in a bad part of town. I remember them being good enough that I would listen to my brother’s copy of the Skins, Brains & Guts 7”. I would also go see them many a time when they came in town after that. But when they got all rock at the same time Youth Brigade became the Brigade, I was turned off. A few years back I got a copy of the Good to Go CD and they went back to their old stylings. This CD continues on with their early traditions and if you are a fan of their early material, this should not disappoint. Kevin Seconds leaves guitars duties to another but does play with original members Steve Youth and Troy Mowat. Before you go write them off as another old band reforming to relive their pasts, give this a listen. I was hesitant on their previous and the current release but I was surprised each time how much I liked their current music –don (Sideonedummy)


4 FT. FINGERS:
A Cause for Concern: CD
Do bro’s still listen to underground music? If so, these guys are totally stoked! They look like Papa Roach but their tight surf punk synchronization and harmonized vocals make them appear talented and less meatheaded. In the end, they are just another No Use for a Name and the kids watching TRL would probably eat this shit up (but I can’t because I don’t like to eat shit). At least they aren’t singing about girls or Jesus. –Guest Contributor (Go Kart)


3 KISSES:
Wings: CD-R
Have you ever gone to a club on a Monday night to go see a bunch of bands you have never heard of just because you wanted to get out of the house? Have you ever been to a showcase setting where bands are trying to get signed? This band would have been at every one of those shows, including the battle of the bands. You know things are bad when a band uses the same notes of “Louie Louie” and “Wild Thing” and put new lyrics over it. The cute female vocals do not do anything to make this tolerable. –don (Stolen Kisses)


15 PLAN:
Punk Rock for Dummies: CD
If lame approximations of sub-par Queers tunes with a staggeringly flat vocalist are your definition, then yes, dummy, this is punk rock. I’ll go so far to say that if you even so much as accept a free copy of this, you ain’t a dummy, you’re a total retard. –jimmy (Blankmind)


MIRRORS, THE:
A Green Dream: CD
Some pretty good psych rock here, true to form, and with a solid ‘60s feel to it. Probably not something you might wanna put on while you mowing the lawn or anything, but good listening nonetheless. –jimmy (Birdman)


MINMAE:
I’d Be Scared, Were You Still Burning: CD
If Lou Reed is your thing and you like your music mellow, this band is a godsend for you. Unfortunately, I need more “oomph!” in music. –don (Greyday)


MILLION DOLLAR MARXISTS:
Stop: 7"
The cover, for whatever reason, led me to believe that I'd be stumbling into some lame ass sludge rock; an old grunge cassingle being eaten by a tape deck, some Atomic 61 test-pressing 45 being played at 33, you get the idea. Slow. Drrroooooning. Bass-heavy. Let me just say, I was surprised when I put it on and smoke started shooting out of my speakers. What we've got here is some burner-hot garage rock a la—I don't know—the Chinese Millionaires or the Screaming Bloody Marys. The fact that there are only two songs on this: lame. The two songs themselves: pretty goddamn ripping. A bit of fresh blood here in a genre that at times seems to be sagging and stumbling its way out of the bar. Thanks, guys. –keith (Blue Bus)


MICO DE NOCHE:
Balls Deep: CD
Nice’n’sludgy rock/punk stuff here: very noisy with flamenco flourishes here and there. Wasn’t expecting much, so it was a pleasant surprise that it wasn’t half bad. –jimmy (Violent Hippie)


MEXICAN BLACKBIRDS:
Fear of Texas: 12” EP
Smear on some Motards grease and resin, huff some gas with early Zeke, add the smell of burning hair, squeeze and screw in the punk’n’roll pyrotechnic sensibility of The B-Movie Rats, and you’ve got a close approximation of the Mexican Blackbirds. It’s in the red, the vocalist sounds just short of being strangulated, and it feels like their instruments are stabbing you in the chest while slicing your tendons so there’s no easy retreat. They’ve definitely learned assault tactics of their own and aren’t just pickpocketing the bands previous mentioned. Good stuff. It’s growing on me with each listen. –todd (Mortville)


MEXICAN BLACKBIRDS/PINK SWORDS:
Black Vinyl Revenge, Chapter 1: Split LP
The title line here sounds like some sketchy urban legend from a fictional city across the border made into a ‘50s so-bad-you-love-it exploitation flick. This record is also that cool. It combines previous CD releases: The Birds’ Just to Spite You (2003, Dirtnap) with The Swords’ One Night High (2003, Mortville). The music fetish factor gets even higher: both have amazing girl drummers from other great bands (Jill from Valentine Killers, Suzy Motard), half-black and half-pink vinyl, and one new live track from each band. Catchy, hard-driving rock. Entire albums on each side, except the Birds’ “Burn It Down/Over the Edge” track from the CD is not here. Alas, still an awesome record. –mike (Rockin’ Bones)


METEORS:
These Evil Things: CD
I dunno if I’ve outgrown ’em, if they’ve lost their sheen, or if I’m just not in the mood, but these guys just ain’t movin’ me like they used to. The songs are all right as far as psychobilly goes, but they seem to be variants on the same theme and lacking in oomph. Found myself drawn more to the three instrumentals than the tracks with vocals. –jimmy (Headhunter)


MESSENGERS, THE:
Self-titled: CD
Granted, it's solid and tuneful punk rock stuff, it's totally catchy, and the singer sounds like a dead ringer for Cinder from Tilt. Granted, the layout and production are really nice and they're probably a terrific live band. Granted, they seem sincere, and my foot's tapping. But this one just falls a bit short somehow, I can't help feeling a little ripped off—for one thing, while it is solid and tuneful, it's also comprised of songs that I feel like I've heard before. Half the time it seems like I'm listening to a cover from another band, like it was a song written from an entire other era of punk rock. You could call that a spirited homage or you could call it shameless regurgitation, I don't know. Then the rest of the time I'm just wishing they would speed it up a bit. Anyway, they've got the mohawks and the tats down, but they left the snot on the bus. The Messengers are really good at what they're doing, it's just that what they're doing rings a lot closer to early Discount, minus the lyrical quirks, or Tilt without the speed, than they do to Antiproduct or To What End. And, you know, I've already got all the Discount and Tilt records I need. –keith (Punk Core)


MARY TIMONY:
Ex Hex: CD
I loved Mary Timony when she fronted the storybook fantasyland that was Helium. In the indie-lovin’ ‘90s, she was the cool and mysterious dark horse that sang fantastically odd songs about superballs, vampires, and medieval people. But, just when things were getting good, Helium disbanded. Timony soon ventured into the obligatory solo career and I stayed behind, content with my perfect little Helium catalogue. But with the release of Ex Hex, Timony’s back in fine form. Angular guitars surf around in that space between your ears and dreamy vocals whisper you the sweetest rock lullabye. Oh yeah, and there’s a song about pirates! –kat (Lookout!)


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